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Rampone ready for last Sky Blue FC match before leaving for World Cup

New Jersey team looking to extend franchise-record unbeaten streak to eight games against Washington Spirit

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Although Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra was hoping for one more match with his captain on the field,  today's game with the visiting Washington Spirit will be defender and captain Christie Rampone's final one with the New Jersey team for a while.

Or at least as far as the US women's national team can go in the Women's World Cup this June and July.

Sky Blue FC meets Washington in a National Women's Soccer League match at Rutgers University's Yurcak Field in a 6 p.m. kick.

Rampone will join the rest of her USWNT teammates in residency camp following tonight's match in hopes of healing fully from a nagging knee injury and taking her usual spot in the central defense for the Americans' bid to win their third ever World Cup.

She hasn't seen 90 minutes of action in a big and odds are she won't against the Spirit either, despite what Rampone might want.

"We were being conservative," said Rampone after last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Houston, where she was subbed out in the 67th minute. "It's a little sore and I think I could have (continued to) played on it. But with the World Cup coming up, we weren't taking chances."

Gabarra had a more limited number of minutes in mind last week.

"We started with 45 minute and she felt good," said Gabarra. "She wanted to keep going and I'm sure she could have kept going. But it was still a little sore and we didn't want to take chances. I am hoping we can get her until May but I don't know if that's possible"

Rampone and fellow defender Kelley O'Hara will most likely be gone for up to two months if the Americans go as far as they expect. That means the lineup will most likely be shaken up again.

"There's a lot of coming and going with different players, but all teams (in the league) are facing the same thing," said Rampone. "I'm excited for the World Cup but I will also be excited to come back with the Sky Blue. I like being one of the veterans and working with the younger players. That is something I  am looking forward to."

But before the World Cup, there is still the Washington side. Sky Blue FC is hoping to extend the current franchise-record unbeaten streak to eight games against the Spirit.

Washington will provide a worthy adversary having beaten defending champion Kansas City, 3-1, after falling behind in sixth minute. USWNT team players Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris led the Spirit effort.

"While it may be early in the season, we are facing a very important match against Washington," said Gabarra. "Every game is a big game in this league and ever opponent is a quality opponent. Looking at our schedule, you will see that we only face Washington twice this year and this is our only home fixture with them."

After today's match, Sky Blue FC will play three of its next four games on the road.